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EPA Director considers proposal for a bauxite mine

The EPA Director has concluded his assessment of a proposed bauxite mine in the state’s north.

Australian Bauxite Limited proposed to development a bauxite mine involving the extraction and screening of up to 650,000 tonnes (375,000 cubic metres) per year of bauxite from land within a mining lease approximately five kilometres northwest of Campbell Town.

The mining will involve shallow quarrying of surface deposits on agricultural land.

Under delegation from the EPA Board, EPA Director Alex Schaap has decided the mine could be developed and managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner, with certain conditions.

"I gave consideration to various environmental issues, particularly the potential for noise impact to residences arising from product transport, and the disturbance to threatened flora species," Mr. Schaap said.

"To ensure early morning or late evening traffic from the proposed mine does not disturb residences along the transport route, a restriction was placed on the time haulage trucks may enter and exit the mine site."

"The area has been heavily disturbed by agricultural cultivation and grazing but a few areas of the mine site are inhabited by the threatened species, knotty speargrass, and are to be fenced off to minimise the potential for any disturbance," Mr. Schaap said.

The proposal does not present the risks of water contamination often seen with mining proposals because the operations will not intersect groundwater and the rocks in the area are not prone to acidic drainage. Issues of sedimentation of surface waters are dealt with through conditions on drainage management and dust suppression.

Mr. Schaap said one public representation was received in relation to the permit application, which was submitted in 22 September 2014. Public consultation was open for a 28 day period commencing 27 September 2014. The representation was supportive of the proposal.

The proposal was considered by the Director in the context of the sustainable development objectives of the Resource Management and Planning System of Tasmania (RMPS), and in the context of the objectives of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control System (EMPCS) established by the EMPC Act.

The functions of the Board are to administer and enforce the provisions of the Act, and in particular to use its best endeavours to protect the environment of Tasmania, and to further the RMPS and EMPCS objectives.

The Director, under delegation from the EPA Board, undertook the assessment of the proposal in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Principles defined in Section 74 of the EMPC Act.

The Director’s environmental assessment, including the environmental conditions that must be included in any permit, have been forwarded to the Northern Midlands Council, for review of planning issues prior to making a decision as to whether a permit is to be granted.

For more information about the proposal and the Director’s assessment, go t the assessments page on the EPA website